When business and the world of work seem to be changing faster than ever, it's essential to prepare your organization and its people for the future by investing in skills development.
A dynamic HR function should offer ways to ensure continued labor support, including reskilling. Reskilling involves training and redirecting employees to new positions within the company, making your business more resilient and adaptable to shifts in operation. Using current workers to fill future employment gaps is a cost-effective strategy that encourages employee engagement and retention.
Let's take a closer look at some of the reasons skills building could prove crucial for your organization and the practical steps you can take to implement a successful reskilling program.
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While it has always been true that businesses need relevant and applicable skills in their workforce to succeed, the unique challenges generated by rapidly accelerating tech developments have created a whole new set of in-demand skills. In addition, each generation of workers brings their respective motivations and ambitions to the table.
According to the World Economic Forum, which convenes each year to discuss global trends in economics, technologies and sociology, automation will displace 85 million jobs by 2025. At the same time, it will open up 97 million new roles to people with the right skills and characteristics. To fill these jobs through 2025 and beyond, businesses will need to reskill current employees to keep up with industry enhancements and developing roles.
Examples of professional opportunities with accelerated growth include:
- Software engineering and cloud computing
- AI technicians
- Data analysts
- Sales and marketing
- Product development
- Social awareness
While emerging fields may dictate the need for a specific hard skill set, don't overlook the necessity of reskilling your employees on soft skills.
For example, the WEC predicted that analytical thinking, creativity and flexibility will be among the most in-demand skills by 2025. Other valuable soft skills include:
- Digital and data literacy
- Emotional intelligence
- Ability to work within the framework of a team
- Time management
- Positive attitude toward learning
automation will displace 85 million jobs in the next 5 years. At the same time, it will open up 97 million new roles to people who have the right skills and characteristics to fill them.
As you look ahead to what the future could hold for your business, reskilling of both hard and soft skills should be at the heart of your efforts to prepare your organization and your people.
learn more tips for closing the skills gapdownload 5 strategies to upskill your workforce
strategies for successful reskilling
Reskilling your workforce is comparable to many other business projects and processes. You need to take a structured and goal-oriented approach to minimize inefficiencies and get the best results.
Planning out the most important steps and actions you need to take will prove crucial to your final outcomes.
1. don't delay
Businesses and employees have much to gain from technical skill development. Organizations get access to emerging skills and capabilities that contribute to future performance while workers experience greater engagement in their work and long-term employability.
Reskilling has become more important than ever in the current era of digital transformation, a fundamental change in how businesses and industries operate. It's vital to make it a priority for your organization right now rather than viewing it as a 'nice to have' or an objective to achieve at some point in the future.
Acknowledging the importance of immediate action — and getting the whole business on board with the project from senior managers all the way down to junior team members — is a crucial first step in the process. One way to empower employees and sell your reskilling or upskilling program is to offer it as a way to manage career tracks.
2. analyze your current skills
To ensure your reskilling activities are relevant and productive, you should have a clear idea of your current position with regard to competencies in the workforce. It can be useful to do some dedicated research into the skills and experience already crucial in your sector and identify likely skills gaps in the future.
What are the most significant emerging trends, challenges and opportunities in your industry, and do you have the necessary qualities and capacity to respond to them?
This is a necessary process to go through if you're looking to improve your understanding of where you're currently well-resourced and where you have shortages, such as in digital skills, that could prove problematic in the future.
learn more about upskillingdownload 5 strategies to upskill your workforce
3. know your goals
Researching the current state of skills in your workforce and identifying trends in the wider market will help with another crucial part of the skills-building process: identifying the goals you want to achieve.
You should establish clear and tangible outcomes that you want to gain from this endeavor. By creating a valuable structure and plan for your reskilling efforts, you can better gauge results as the project progresses.
One approach that can prove beneficial is to set goals that are SMART:
This can be just as useful for individual workers as it is for the HR department and the business as a whole. An example of a SMART goal that could add focus to your reskilling program is to increase the number of IT staff enrolled in cybersecurity training schemes by 20% over the next 6 months.
4. look for resources
Like any undertaking in business, you can't expect worthwhile results from reskilling if you don't have the right kind and proper amount of resources to support your efforts.
Fortunately, there are provisions that can boost your efforts to enrich competencies in your workforce even if you have diverse and geographically distributed teams of remote workers. These range from free resources like massive open online courses and publicly available videos on relevant subjects to more specialty services like industry certifications and training programs endorsed by professional associations.
You can find training modules that cover skills development as a whole or ones that specialize in certain areas, including:
- Technical skill development
- Soft skill development
- Leadership skill development
5. design tailored and relevant reskilling journeys
One of the biggest challenges linked to reskilling and developing your workforce is learner engagement. If you want employees to have a genuine desire to learn and constantly refresh their skill sets, it's essential to deliver positive, relevant experiences that reflect people's interests and priorities.
Engage with your staff to find out what they're keen to learn about, how they see their career progressing and where they experience a job skills gap. This could also be an ideal opportunity to talk about people's preferred approaches to learning and what platforms, methods and environments they would feel most comfortable with.
Surprisingly, considering all the focus on reskilling and worker training among HR professionals and corporate leadership, only 20% of employees surveyed in the 2022 LinkedIn Learning Report felt learning was a top priority at their workplace. Therefore, to facilitate an attitude of learning, you need to ensure everyone, from top managers to the newest hires, understands your organization's talent development mission.
6. test and iterate
Ongoing testing and iteration can help you ensure your workforce learning and reskilling activities are constantly evolving, improving and responding to the latest developments relevant to your business and industry.
You can evaluate how your programs are functioning by collecting feedback from participants and inviting suggestions about what improvements could be made in the future.
It could also help to focus on areas of performance or productivity you hope will benefit from reskilling. Start by conducting a baseline assessment of your most relevant performance metrics and track how these indicators shift as your employees' changing skills progress. By quantifying results, you'll be able to make informed conclusions about which aspects of your reskilling project are working well and where you need to change your approach.
7. protect your reskilling budget for the future
Reskilling shouldn't be viewed simply as a 'one off' or as a short-term response to a unique challenge like a digital transformation or new project but as an ongoing process that is part of the ethos and culture of your company.
It's important, therefore, to make sure the budget you dedicate to this process is protected for the long term. This might require you to put forward a strong business case for the ongoing value of reskilling — another reason it's so crucial to constantly collect data and analyze the impact of your work in this area, as noted in the previous step.
By providing clear, data-rich evidence of how reskilling benefits the business, you can help make it a fundamental part of your organization's operations. This strategy puts your company and its people in positions to thrive, regardless of how the world of work changes in the coming years.
reskilling programs in practice
This Germany-based software company, with over 230 million cloud users, offers its employees a robust learning and development environment with more than 1 million courses available. The company began its digital upgrade in 2017 by creating and following a structured roadmap, including upskilling more than 4,700 workers and recruiting new hires for essential roles.
Current employees at SAP have access to dynamic growth solutions that include:
- Online and peer learning
- Internal recruitment pathways
- Job exchange programs
- Certified coaching
Not every employee training program is driven by digitalization. World climate change is causing environmentally aware companies to aim for net zero emissions, requiring a shift in operations and a new set of in-demand skills. Iberdrola, a world leader in renewable energy, is one such company.
The company plans to retrain 15,000 workers for work on solar panels and electric vehicle recharging installs. Ignacio Galan, the company's chairman and a member of the European Round Table for Industry, believes that these are the jobs of the future, and his company needs a workforce in place to meet the goal of smarter energy use.
By offering employees an opportunity for growth through reskilling and upskilling, these two companies are helping close the job skills gap between current occupations and those that may not even exist until the next decade.
To learn more about upskilling, another important concept, download our short guide5 strategies to upskill your workforce
This is an updated version of an article originally published on 29 June 2021.